Raheem Sterling scored a dramatic injury-time winner before being sent off as Manchester City came from behind to beat Bournemouth at the Vitality Stadium.
In the 97th minute, the former Liverpool star swept the ball home with the aid of a deflection to break the Cherries’ hearts. Referee Mike Dean then showed Sterling a second yellow card for celebrating with the crowd, as emotions spilled over on the south coast.
Charlie Daniels had given Bournemouth an early lead courtesy of a thunderbolt, before Gabriel Jesus equalised shortly afterwards. It was Sterling who had the final say, though, giving City their second Premier League victory of the season and leaving Bournemouth still awaiting their first point.
Sterling provides the killer touch for City
The England man has an excellent goalscoring record against Bournemouth and added to it here – although he left it exceptionally late. It was a scruffy strike but that mattered not to him or his team-mates.
City had pressed in the second half but it looked like their exertions would go unrewarded until Sterling somehow bundled the ball into Asmir Begovic’s net. It may be early days, but on such moments can the destiny of the Premier League title hinge.
Having dropped two points against Everton on Monday night, the Citizens could ill afford another slip-up. Pep Guardiola has spent an enormous amount of money to transform his squad into genuine title contenders.
At times they were irresistible against Bournemouth, but ultimately it is only the result that matters. Sterling ensured they could make the long trip home a happy one.
Committed Bournemouth can take heart in defeat
Eddie Howe looked inconsolable after Sterling struck in the dying moments to deny his side a hard-earned point. Bournemouth are notoriously poor starters and the Cherries’ boss will be worried with their current position.
However, he needn’t be concerned with the manner of their performance against Guardiola’s men, which far surpassed their feeble efforts against West Bromwich Albion and Watford.
A tactical switch from his usual 4-4-1-1 to 3-5-2 paid dividends and gave Bournemouth a foothold, which they capitalised on through Daniels’ sensational half-volley that arrowed into the top corner.
City are the only team the Cherries are yet to take at least a point from in the Premier League. They came agonisingly close to breaking their duck here; nevertheless, Bournemouth can head into the international break with many positives.
Referee Dean steals the limelight once more
It was difficult to fathom what was going on in a chaotic finale, but Dean again found a way of being centre of attention. While City were still celebrating their last-gasp winner, the referee brandished a second yellow card to goalscorer Sterling for an excessive celebration.
Technically, Dean followed the letter of the law – but surely common sense should have been applied. Sterling had run towards his own supporters in pure jubilation, but was definitely not inciting violence. How was he expected to react in such circumstances?
That wasn’t the only controversial moment involving Dean, who had failed to dismiss Nathan Ake for a deliberate trip on Jesus in the first half. Ake, who was last man, had been dispossessed by the City striker and denied him a clear goalscoring opportunity by committing a foul. Dean’s leniency rightly infuriated Guardiola.